Lisa Miller, PhD, believes she knows why.
Dr. Miller, a Columbia University psychologist, in her new book, The Spiritual Child – The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving, reveals why psychological and neurological researchers have come to the conclusion that spirituality supplies a protective and healthy advantage.
Spirituality, until relatively recently, interested mainly those of deep faith. Now, spirituality is a cottage industry involving university departments, clinical trials, researchers, writers, and publishers. This is a good thing. Each participant can help us to recognize the value of spirituality.
Miller writes in The Spiritual Child, “Spiritual development through the early years prepares the adolescent to grapple more successfully with the predictably difficult and potentially disorienting existential questions that make adolescence so deeply challenging for teens (and their parents.) It also provides a protective health benefit, reducing the risk of depression, substance abuse, aggression, and high-risk behaviors, including physical risk taking.”
The critical question is: If your child had been on that stage, would he or she have been able to say, “No”?
Miller in The Spiritual Child writes, “Research shows that a parent’s decision about how to approach their child’s spiritual life is a high-stakes proposition with lifelong implications.”
I met Dr. Lisa Miller over a year ago at a conference hosted by the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. I was immediately impressed with her work and writings. They resonated with me. Why? Because I was the teenage musician mentioned earlier.
I was fortunate to have parents who encouraged my spiritual development at an early age. I received spiritual education at a Christian Science Sunday School. This led to a daily practice of reading a Bible-lesson and praying, which resulted in a sufficient spiritual sense that helped me refrain from alcohol and drugs. This moral and spiritual culture helped me achieve perfect attendance during elementary, middle, and high school. My childhood included what are considered normal teenage emotional and physical struggles, yet, I never missed a day of school because of illness.
Dr. Miller’s research and writings are important because they reveal how essential spirituality is in fostering children’s health and safety. In The Spiritual Child, readers will find helpful advice on how to nurture their child’s spirituality and their own.
I agree with Dr. Miller that parents need not worry that a child could be without spirituality. Their child’s spirituality has already been sewn securely into the lining of his or her existence. Yet, research has led Miller to conclude that a child’s spirituality is genetic and simply needs nurturing, whereas in my practice of spiritual healing, I have found spirituality to be the core of our existence – not gained from matter or genetic material, but from divine composition. Perhaps, it will be found that spirituality only seems genetic to researchers because spirituality or spiritual consciousness is the ultimate fabric and structure of life.
Today, a child’s existence, including his or her spirituality, is presumed DNA-based. Yet, instead of a biological parent being the originator, let’s consider that every child emanates from a divine Spirit or Life. Your child’s spirituality could be a way that the beauty and majesty of Life is being revealed to you.
The significance? Your child would be subject to divine laws and ever able to express a spiritual authority – control over thoughts, actions, and body.
Dr. Miller writes, “Spirituality is the last untapped resource in our understanding of human development, resilience and illness, and health and healing. The absence of support for children’s spiritual growth has contributed to alarming rates of childhood and adolescent emotional suffering and behaviors that put them at risk. Knowledge of spiritual development rewrites the contemporary account of spiraling rates of depression, substance abuse, addictive behaviors, and other health concerns.”
Confirmation that spirituality is actually present in children may very well accelerate the need for more investigation. If we apply ourselves to learning about the spiritual nature of our children, we will have an easier time expecting and encouraging them to live fearlessly, wisely, freely – to thrive.
It was an awakening to my spirituality, glimpsing life as complete and satisfied, that enabled me to refuse the drugs and alcohol that were placed on the stage.
Accepting your child’s spirituality is a “high-stakes proposition,” yes, with “lifelong implications” that free and bless.
– Keith Wommack is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher, Syndicated Columnist, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at: KeithWommack.com